THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 243
Poland in 1628. Yet all the while Comenius never allowed himself
to be wholly distracted from his educational studies, and only a
year before the departure for Poland he began his preparations
for writing a work on education in hopeful anticipation of the
restoration of the Church and the re-establishment of its schools.
The twelve years he spent in Poland were highly favourable to
this design. Under the stress of poverty he was compelled to
devote himself to teaching, and in reorganizing the gymnasium of
Lissa he had the opportunity of putting his ideas into practice.
The literary outcome of this experience took two forms : on the
one hand, he gave an exposition of his principles for the guidance
of educators in the noble treatise which he named the Great
Didactic ; on the other hand, he showed the application of these
principles in a series of graded textbooks for school use. The
Great Didactic was completed about 1632, but remained un-
published until a Latin translation from the original Czech was
given to the world in 1657. The textbooks included a work on
home education in the first six years of life (The School of Infancy),
six books on the education to be given in the vernacular school
from six to twelve (one for each year), and the Janua Linguarum
Reserata (The Door of the Languages Unlocked), an introduction
to the study of Latin which was intended to form part of a com-
prehensive system of word-books, grammars and dictionaries.
The books on elementary education received no attention : there
was as yet no general interest in vernacular instruction, and
they were never translated from the Czech in which they
were written. But the Janua met with an astounding success.
In a very short time it was translated into twelve European and
four Asiatic languages, and everywhere throughout Europe it
became the favourite textbook for beginners in Latin. It was,
indeed, a notable book not only as an aid to Latinity, but as the
practical embodiment of a new view of education. In writing it,
Comenius began by selecting eight thousand of the commonest
Latin words. These he combined in a thousand sentences of
progressive difficulty in grammatical structure, using each word
in its root-significance and including it only once. But the book
was more than a skilfully arranged collection of words and idioms.
Following the principle that language is only a means to the
expression of facts, he distributed the sentences in a hundred
sections, each dealing with a single topic, and giving, when taken